Fifteen years after weight loss surgery and today I find myself hungry. I stop, apply HALTS and realize I am tired. I had a bad night of insomnia last night. I can make a snack of lunch meat, cheese or jerky to get me through, or give in to my carb cravings.
The first thing I do when this happens is try to figure out what is going on with me. First I review my food choices over the past few days. Have I been getting enough protein? Have I added too many artificial sweeteners or processed carbs to my food choices? Because I keep a daily food journal I can review the days before to see if I ate too many carbs, or too much artificial sweetener, or didn’t have enough protein.
Next I get to review my feelings – Am I stressed, angry, lonely, sad so that I am reaching for food instead of feeling my emotions and just dealing with them? Hmmm, let me think a moment or two on those.
One more to look at- water. How much water have I been drinking? Have I been getting in at least 64 ounces.
So what’s been different? Has my schedule changed, am I getting in my exercise, what could it be? Why am I suddenly hungry a couple of hours after eating?
How do you feel? What’s going on? I kept asking myself that question repeatedly and finally the light went off and I had my aha moment. I felt tired. Why? The reason was simple. I had not been sleeping well for the past several days. I intermittently have periods of time like this for a few days where my sleep is interrupted more than it usually is by the results of 100 ounces of water through the day. This was one of them.
Lack of sleep is a known contributor to both increased hunger and obesity.
Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite.
Here it is as stated by another doctor “A lack of sleep has also been shown to directly increase appetite and weight gain.” As researchers at Laval University in Quebec City, Quebec found; if you aren’t getting enough sleep you have a 30 percent higher risk of becoming obese and can expect an average weight gain of five pounds.
Deep sleep regulates growth hormone (the “fountain of youth hormone”), and controls the production of leptin and ghrelin. Together, these three hormones regulate appetite. This means if you don’t get enough sleep you’ll want to eat more, especially sugar! Growth hormone also helps turn fat into muscle. Increased muscle mass helps you burn calories more efficiently and improves insulin sensitivity-in other words, it stops sugar cravings and makes you thinner.
Lack of sleep can lead to insulin resistance. This means you cannot get sugar out of the bloodstream and into your cells where it is needed for fuel, so your body cries out for sugar but can’t burn the sugar you eat. You’re left endlessly craving sugar, overweight, exhausted, and even diabetic.”
Stated by another researcher : “Studies have shown that when people don’t get enough sleep they:
• Have increased levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin and decreased levels of the satiety/fullness hormone called leptin, which could lead to overeating and weight gain.
• Consume about 300 calories a day more than when they are well-rested. Overall, most of the extra calories came from high-fat foods.
• Snack more and do less physical activity.
• Eat more than what is needed to cover the energy cost of staying awake longer, especially at night, which can lead to significant weight gain.
Research has showed that when study participants didn’t get enough sleep for five days, they consumed more carbohydrates and gained nearly 2 pounds in that time. “When people are sleepy, they make poor food choices and are more likely to eat more than they need, ” says Kenneth Wright, director of sleep and chronobiology laboratory at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Ok, ok – I get it. I need more sleep. I try, believe me I do. I will just have to try harder. I’ll go up to bed ½ hour earlier and see if that allows me to drift off and stay asleep better. I am not having trouble getting to sleep. My issue most of the time is that of staying asleep for longer than 2-3 hours without waking up.
At least I know there is nothing wrong with my food choices, my water intake, my exercise program (which doesn’t change even when I have a bad night). I am doing everything by the book. Now just tell that to my pituitary gland and my tummy so that ghrelin, leptin, and other hormone balance can be what it should be.
I am writing this as I consume a few slices of deli turkey wrapped around pickle spears to try to deal with my 4PM hunger. I am physically satisfied now and also aware that there are “chemical” changes in my body contributing to my hunger. I will just have to deal with them and NOT reach for the tortilla chips and guacamole which sound so dang good right now.
Before you reach for that high carb snack do you stop and ask yourself the following – AM I:
- Stressed or Sad
Asking these questions has helped me avoid out of control snacking most of the time. I am using the tool between my ears to solve the mysteries of hunger and satiety in those areas that my surgery doesn’t, and can’t directly, help me.